If this past year has taught me anything it’s that we desperately need change. The ways we existed up until this point were never acceptable, and the time has come for change. Change in the world, change in the way we treat ourselves, and change in the way we treat others. But how does Radical self-love fit in?
Cut to The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor. This miraculous book is an agent of change, a light in the darkness, and a powerful reminder of the power and magic we each have inside us. Although it deals in the realm of body image healing, it also addresses social justice and equity. In this post I will break down some key aspects of the book, share some of my favorite quotes, and highlight some practical tips to move forward.
In her book, Taylor says, “A radical self-love world is a world free from the systems of oppression…a world that works for every body. Creating such a world is an inside-out job…It is though our own transformed relationship with our bodies that we become champions for other bodies.” She goes on to explain, “Radical self-love is about the self because the self is part of the whole…and therefore…is the foundation of radical human love.”
How many times have you felt out of place in your body? How often do we have to apologize or manipulate ourselves to fit in this world? But when we are so preoccupied with fixing ourselves, we lose sight of the rest of the world, and we shrink the space for everyone. It’s not our fault, but we can no longer be complicit, for our own wellbeing and for the wellbeing of others.
Taylor coined the phrase, “The body is not an apology,” when speaking with a friend. It was with those magical words that she started a movement. Beginning with herself, she stopped apologizing and complying with the oppressive standards we have been taught, and that unapologetic power spread. What would it be life to feel right in your own body? What kind of power would we have individually and collectively if we stepped into ourselves and out of judgment?
But how do we get there? Taylor offes three steps:
We often fear what we don’t know or understand, but what if we accepted it? As Taylor says, “Understanding is not a prerequisite for honor, love, and respect.” Instead of struggling to understand, let peace lead you.
Diversity is powerful and beautiful. In The Body Is Not An Apology, Taylor shares Dr. Deb Burgard’s animated video Poodle Science that highlights the danger of evaluating health and wellness based on size assumptions. Bodies are diverse in size, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, ability, and more, it is so much easier to celebrate diversity then to fight against it. “Inequality and injustice rest firmly on our unwillingness to exalt the vast magnificence of the human body.”
Here’s the kicker, the idea that your body needs to be fixed has a lot to do with your internal struggles with the other two “peaces.” The body shame we each carry with us, is not only sucking our lives away but it’s sucking away our relationships as well. You are right, just as you are, and you deserve you to live your life and fulfill your potential today. Right now.
Radical self-love is about living unapologetically. We have been taught to feel shame and to keep quiet, but the time has come to live boldly and speak powerfully. Over the course of her book, Taylor identifies the causes of our shame, and supports her readers as they work to dismantle and genuinely love themselves.
But where do we start? How do we start? Taylor gives us three strategies for fighting for a radical self-love world, where our bodies are not apologies. These three strategies are thinking, doing, and being.
Thinking is a practice of shame-free inquiry. Switch judgement for curiosity. She says, “be inquisitive and loving rather than harsh…:” Explore your own thoughts and feelings with an open mind.
Doing is becoming familiar with what you don’t know. Normalize what you previously thought of as “other.” Read books that center other experiences and follow people on social media too. Sonya uses the example of making fat familiar. She explains that taking action means, “celebrating the presence of fat bodies more loudly than we applaud the infinite endeavors to shrink our bodies.”
Finally, being. This is about making your practice public. Existing in this new way and making a habit of it, is stepping into radical self-love. Join the fight, dismantle oppression, in your own life and in your world.
Sonya Renee Taylor has given us a gift with her book, The Body Is Not An Apology. Her realistic view of the world, combined with her magical ideas of self are the perfect tonic for moving forward in our reality.
Imagine embracing yourself, fulfilling your potential, and transferring that to your community and beyond. Radical self-love is self empowerment that in turn empowers and uplifts others as well. It is the key to authentic and powerful change.
Sonya ends the book saying that everyone deserves “the opportunity…no matter their body, to have unobstructed access to their highest self…” In this way, every one of us can live in radical self-love.
The path to radical self-love is not easy. Taylor explains that it is both the map and the joyous prize on the other side. It takes work and dedication, from the inside-out, one step at a time. It might even take some support. I know first hand the power of investing in yourself and enlisting support.
If the last year has shown us anything, it’s that change is on our shoulders. Now, it’s time we take into our own hands.
Radical self-love is within your reach. Let me help you get there.